Terry Hall dead: The singer of The Specials dies at the age of 63

Terry Hall, lead singer of The Specials, has died at the age of 63, his bandmates have confirmed tonight.

Hall, who was also a former member of Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield, died after a short illness.

The band tweeted: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, after a short illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced.

“Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest and most genuine souls. His music and performances capture the essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but most of all love.

“He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him and he leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and deep humanity. Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… “Love Love Love”

“We would like to ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy at this very sad time.”

The Specials were founded in Hall’s home town of Coventry in 1977 by Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter – with Hall, Neville Staple, Roddy Byers and John Bradbury joining a year later.

The band was originally called The Automatics, before changing their name to The Coventry Automatics, The Specials AKA The Automatics and finally, in 1978, they settled into The Specials.

Terry Hall of The Specials on the main stage, at the Isle of Wight Festival in Seaclose Park, Newport


The band made a name for itself for their ska and rocksteady style and for providing a musical backdrop to economic recession, urban decay and social rift in the early 1980s.

During their time together, The Specials produced a string of hits, including A Message To You, Rudy, Rat Race, and Ghost Town, which reached number one.

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The band broke up in 1981, after which Hall, Golding and Staple formed Fun Boy Three, while Dammers and Bradbury released an album called The Special AKA, which spawned the 1984 hit single Free Nelson Mandela.

Fun Boy Three achieved four UK top 10 singles during their time together, until Hall left the band in 1983 to form The Colourfield with ex-Swinging Cats members Toby Lyons and Karl Shale.

After undertaking a variety of solo and collaboration projects – Hall worked with the likes of Lily Allen – it was announced in 2008 that The Specials would be reforming for a number of tour dates and potential new music.

Terry Hall of The Specials filming for The Graham Norton Show (Isabel Infantes/PA)

(PA archive)

In September of that year, Hall and five members of the band performed at the Bestival music festival under the name Very “Special” Guests.

In 2009 he looked back on the performance and said: “Bestival was a trial run. We did an unannounced slot so we could just show up, nameless. It was perfect.”

The Specials embarked on a 30th anniversary tour in 2009 and in 2018 supported The Rolling Stones in concert at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

In February 2019, The Specials released Encore, their first album of new material in 37 years.

Upon release, the album went straight to number one on the Official UK Album Chart, marking their first number one album, and the first time they had topped the chart since their classic song Ghost Town in 1981 and since their single Too Much Too Young became a number one in 1980.

The album’s first single, politically themed Vote For Me, was regarded by some fans as a follow-up to Ghost Town, which was hailed as a piece of popular social commentary released during the 1981 England riots.

Hall told The Big Issue magazine in 2019: “I find myself in awe of the mess, every night listening to politicians speak their minds and thinking, I don’t necessarily trust any of you, I really do.

“It’s pretty sad. I grew up aligned with a party, the PvdA, quite strong. Until Tony Blair made Noel Gallagher prime minister, I knew exactly where I stood.”

Additional reporting by PA

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